Recently, Mattel (MAT) has had two product recalls; one for toys with lead paint, and another for toys with powerful small magnets.
Mattel chose the usual large company route: Have your CEO do a public apology, looking serious and sincere, outlining the problem and emphasizing the steps you’re taking to deal with it.
Has this approach ever worked? I’m not being cynical here, I really want to know.
Here’s why, in this case, I don’t think it worked.
It’s obviously a highly rehearsed and planned speech from CEO Robert Eckert, in a suit, sitting in a fake environment. Everything about this video screams planned, rehearsed, fake — right down to his choreographed hand movements. Maybe it’s just me, but when he says, “I’m just as upset and disappointed as anyone,” I cringe.
I’m thinking, “Yeah, because of all the money you’re gonna lose.”
Let’s put ourselves in a parent’s shoes. More specifically, let’s put ourselves in a mother’s shoes. (Dads are just as concerned but, in my marketing to women research, I’ve learned a whole lot about moms, so I’m going to focus on them.) She’s thinking, “My child may have been exposed to something that could possibly harm him. I’m not ‘disappointed’. I’m scared. I’m angry. I am downright pissed.”
“Upset”. Good word. “Disappointed”. Not so much. The word “disappointed” may work for the lawyers, but not for moms.
What’s the purpose of this video? Is it designed for shareholders and investors? Mattel is taking out ads in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today. This choice of WSJ and NY Times makes me wonder if this PR effort is indeed aimed at investors. If so, I would give the video higher grades.
But if this video is aimed at parents/mothers — “consumers” in corporate speak — then it could be greatly improved. Here’s how:
Moms have particularly strong B.S. detectors. I’m not saying this CEO is insincere, but if he wants consumers or moms to believe in his company, they first must believe in him. I’ll let moms and dads speak for themselves as to whether this video achieved that goal.
What do you think? Can Mattel withstand transparency?